In the 2020s, regional governments will be faced with governing growing numbers of automated and semi-automated vehicles. These vehicles might be privately owned by households, owned by new mobility firms such as Uber and Google which would operate them as taxis, shuttles and jitneys, or government operated and sometimes owned by infrastructure investors under public-private partnership (P3) contracts. It is likely that by the mid 2030s such automation will be significant, perhaps pervasive, bringing with it the end of urban bus transit, the potential for service gaps, unexpected congestion due to service redundancies and risks of poor coordination with existing rail transit.

There are two common scenarios for the future of automobility as vehicles become increasingly automated. The first is that most North American households will retain at least one personal automated vehicle (PAV), as now. The alternative view is that almost no-one will bother to own a personal vehicle because it will be so cheap, easy and convenient to obtain a ride in a shared autonomous vehicle (SAV) such as a publicly accessible, robo-taxi or robo-shuttle.

While the latter scenario occurs to many urban-transportation thought-leaders as the more desirable of the two, this is neither guaranteed to occur, nor has it been determined how such an outcome might be governed in order to achieve a high level of optimization with respect to time, energy and fleet size. In addition, given such fleets, how can we improve aspects of urban… [full-PDF]

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